'Free' Gift Bags for Stars Aren't as Free as We Think

Celebrities who accept the entire bag of swag will have to pay at least $46K this year
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2023 5:05 PM CDT
Those Oscars Goodie Bags Came With $46K Tax Bill
Stock photo of what's likely a much-less-exciting gift bag.   (Getty Images/Christian Sturzenegger)

We're not asking you to feel even the tiniest bit sorry for the celebrities who received swag bags filled with expensive goodies at the Oscars, but perhaps the news we're about to reveal might at least push them into the "Stars: They Pay Taxes Just Like Us" category. Inside each of the fancy gift bags put together by Distinctive Assets for Academy Awards attendees is a 1099 tax form from the IRS, meant to remind recipients they have to pay up on any of the more than five dozen gifts they end up accepting, including such goodies as a three-night stay at a luxury Canadian estate and a $12,000 arm liposuction procedure.

Per Forbes, this year's bag was worth $126,000 or so, which the Robb Report notes is worth about 10% less than it was last year, and half of what it was in 2020. Still, it means that now that the warm glow of being plied with luxury items has worn off, a 37% IRS tax rate translates to this year's recipients being hit with a tax bill of just over $46,000. Celebrities who count California as their home will see an even bigger tab, thanks to that state's 13.3% tax, so another $16,000. All told, that latter group would have to pay half the value of the bag in taxes. Curious what was inside? Check out what appears to be the full list here, as well as more on the behind-the-scenes on the taxes here. (More Oscars stories.)

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